By Capt. James S. Kwoun/6th Engineer BattalionApril 13, 2011
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- A team of Soldiers from the 6th Engineer Battalion based here traveled to the Federated States of Micronesia in early April to perform an engineer assessment of a state hospital in the Pacific island nation.
"The purpose of the assessment was to make an initial determination of the technical requirements for an expected follow-on mission to conduct repairs of the hospital's roof and ceiling system," according to Lt. Col. Marc Hoffmeister, 6th Engineer Battalion commander.
The Federated States of Micronesia is a small island country consisting of four states: Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap. An official request was submitted by the Federated States of Micronesia to the U.S. Pacific Command for repairs to the state hospital on Pohnpei, primarily for deficiencies in the roof and ceiling system.
U.S. Army Alaska, which received the mission from U.S. Pacific Command, directed the 6th Engineer Battalion to conduct a reconnaissance mission of the Pohnpei hospital. Upon receiving official orders in January, the 6th Engineer Battalion mobilized a reconnaissance team to deploy to Pohnpei.
The team included a team leader, construction coordinator, construction technician, plumber, technical surveyor, electrician, and a prime power production specialist.
"The reconnaissance team was task organized to include all the technical expertise necessary to conduct the hospital assessment while minimizing the requirement for external augmentation," Hoffmeister said. "The team we assembled had a wealth of experience, with the lowest-ranking Soldier being a sergeant."
The seven Soldiers formed the nucleus of a larger reconnaissance team that included two Army officers from U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Army Pacific headquarters, one U.S. Navy Seabee, and a civilian structural engineer from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Upon arriving in country, the reconnaissance team had a lot of information to gather, according to 1st Lt. Sam Dia, Platoon Leader, 6th Engineer Battalion, and officer in charge of the reconnaissance team.
"We were directed to conduct a thorough technical assessment of the hospital on Pohnpei, investigate local availability of materials, and determine the potential for contractor support for future construction missions," Dia said. "I'm confident that our team's assessment will provide enough answers to help focus the detailed planning effort that will follow."
Although the reconnaissance mission is over, there is still much work to be conducted.
"The reconnaissance team is currently preparing numerous reports and undergoing a thorough de-brief process to ensure that relevant information makes it to those who need it," said 1st Lt. Daniel Zuniga, Platoon Leader, 6th Engineer Battalion, and construction coordinator for the reconnaissance team.
No official orders have been received to begin construction operations on Pohnpei. However, Hoffmeister said the battalion is ready to assume the mission.
"Infrastructure reconnaissance is a core competency of the engineer regiment. Being able to rapidly deploy to austere locations and conduct an assessment of a host nation's infrastructure is a capability our battalion is able to provide in support of any mission overseas," Hoffmeister said. "We are proud to render our services and unique capabilities in support of our friends and allies in the Pacific Command Area of Responsibility" Hoffmeister said.